Tadej Pogačar happy with 'small victory' over Jonas Vingegaard on Puy de Dôme

The Slovenian took eight seconds back on his Danish rival on stage nine of the Tour de France

Tadej Pogačar distances Jonas Vingegaard on the Puy de Dôme
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jonas Vingegaard might still be in yellow at the Tour de France, but the vibe has shifted, with his great rival Tadej Pogačar seemingly resurgent. All appeared lost after the first day in the Pyrenees, but the gap between the pair now stands at just 18 seconds on the first rest day.

It is the duel that this Tour promised, and appears to be delivering, between Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma, the defending champion, and Pogačar, the greatest rider of his generation, and the man who won in 2020 and 2021.

Neither have ever raced the Tour and not finished on the podium, and they really do appear a level above all the other riders in the race, a race that still has 12 stages to come.

On stage nine, Pogačar attacked on the steepest part of the Puy de Dôme, managing to drop Vingegaard. It was not quite the decisive attack of the race, but it did mean a gap of eight seconds at the end, eight valuable seconds.

"It's not a victory but it is a small victory, so I'm super happy today," Pogačar said after the stage, atop the extinct volcano.

"It was a super nice day, quite relaxed until the last climb. I felt my legs immediately that it was good, but I was waiting just for the last 1.5km, just in case, but I had good legs."

The race therefore seems finely poised as it heads into its second week, with the pair vying for the lead. The hunter has become the hunted, although those roles might yet swap again once the race reaches the Alps.

"It was important, a stage maybe more convenient for Vingegaard," UAE Team Emirates’ principal Mauro Gianetti said. "At the end of the day, we took eight seconds. It's not so much but I think that each second is very important so it's important to get these seconds.

"I think it's a fantastic sport and we have two immense champions. It's simply what everybody expects. I hope and wish that we'll see this battle for the next weeks."

As for the Puy de Dôme, which had not been climbed by the Tour peloton in 35 years, Pogačar admitted to being apprehensive beforehand, but it worked out well in the end.

"I must say that I enjoyed it," he said. "I was a bit scared, the guys were telling me that it was so steep and so hard, but actually today we were flying uphill, so it didn't feel so steep."

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.